Make our roads safer for all Australians through mandatory testing of elderly drivers
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On the 24th October 2016, our 22 year old son Dann Robert Jenkins was killed by an elderly driver who pulled out in from of Dann's motorcycle. His only excuse "I didn't see him". The driver and passenger of the car immediately behind the elderly driver saw Dann coming, but had no way of stopping the elderly driver from turning straight in front of Dann.
This man who shouldn't be behind the wheel of a vehicle, aged 87 at the time of the accident received a 9 nine month suspended sentence for killing our son.
Documents submitted in court referred to his remorse and sorrow for our loss, but, as the offender left the court, his lawyer was submitting an appeal against the sentence - he wants his licence back so he can drive himself to the doctor.
He killed our son on his way home from the local shop after getting the milk and the paper. His life goes on, with his family - ours is destroyed.
If my 22 year old son Dann had killed an 87 year old driver, the likelihood is he would have spent the next 5 to 10 years in jail. Is age now an excuse for murder?
My hope is to have changes to drivers licencing laws passed in each State and Territory to stop anyone else from having to endure the same pain my family and Dann's friends have had to go through, and still do on a daily basis.
These changes to the licencing laws are becoming more important as our population is aging, people are living longer and the number of elderly drivers on our roads is forever increasing.
National statistics show that drivers over the age of 75 have a higher risk (per distance travelled) of causing and being involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in fatality than any other age group per capita. The aging population in Australia means that every year more and more Australians are entering this category, currently there are over 3 million Australians aged over 75, 90% of whom have a full driver’s licence and this number is increasing yearly.
In Australia there is no appropriate eyesight test and no tests for dementia, physical capacity, reaction and response times when testing for licensing renewals.
This petition is to change the licensing laws in Australia to introduce the following changes for annual licence renewals;
- To have mandatory driver testing annually from the age of 75 years. A simulator driver test with an emergency event in the test to show reaction and response time. To show that the elderly driver can get their foot from the accelerator to the brakes
- Eyesight test performed by a qualified optometrist
- A test for dementia to be included in the 'fit to drive' certificate
Currently medical and eyesight tests are performed by doctors, these tests are simplistic and usually signed off by a family doctor who has built a relationship with his patients. If a doctor refuses a 'pass' to a patient, there is nothing to stop them 'doctor shopping' to find one that will pass their medical.
The eyesight test should be performed by an optometrist, and results forwarded directly to the relevant state licencing authority. The results from these tests will be accurate, effective and reliable, unlike current so-called medical certificates issued by doctors.
The installation of a driver testing simulator at licencing facilities, the relatively small cost outlay to install and maintain these would be far offset by the cost saving in emergency care and reduction in the road toll. These can be regularly upgraded and different scenarios programmed into them so drivers cannot learn (or be told) where or when the emergency will be. These can also be used for training students and other drivers new to the road, giving them an idea and training on what to expect when they take a practical driving test.
A fit to drive certificate to be issued by a relevant state transport department approved doctor (not the drivers family doctor) - this certificate to include a dementia test and to be in-line with the testing recommendations in "Assessing Fitness to Drive 2016 (as amended up to August 2017)" issued by Austroads.
An information kit "Assessing Fitness to Drive" is also available from the Austroads website. (www.austroads.com.au)
More information available at www.tih2ho.wixsite.com/dann
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